Freshwater pearl mussels in peril Published: 01 June, 2005
IN a joint operation, the Scottish police force and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) aim to halt the illegal trade in endangered freshwater mussels.
About half of the world population of the mussels are in Scotland and while most have no pearls they are targeted by thieves hoping to find the pearls.
Jewellery shop checks last year showed the illegal pearl trade still exists.
There are now only 61 known breeding sites left in Scotland and it is against the law to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure, take or disturb the mussels, or their habitat.
It is also illegal to sell or advertise pearl mussels for sale without a licence from the Scottish Executive.
During the crackdown on the black market, which is part of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime, police and river workers will be provided with information on the hot spots where pearl theft continues.
SNH licensing officer John Ralston said: “There are now so few sites of pearl mussels left in the country that we are in danger of losing this special creature altogether.
“By launching the operation, we hope to spread the word amongst anyone that might notice this illegal activity and report anything suspicious to their local wildlife crime officer.”
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